Summertime is one of my favorite seasons for reading. I started a tradition in high school where I focus on classic novels during the summer. (Take this as my teenage rebellion against summer reading being traditionally designated for fluffy beach books I suppose!) There was the summer of Jane Austen novels, then John Steinbeck books and so on. It’s a great time to dig in to some of the lengthier and denser plots that I don’t usually have the brain power for during the rest of the year (at least that was the case during school). This summer was no exception. I had two classics on my list: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I finished both, and then rewarded myself with a fun, easy read: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.
Blume is one of my favorite childhood authors, and I think the last time I read one of her stories was in late elementary school when I read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. It was a surge of nostalgia as I began her latest book, which was written for an older crowd. Even though it’s been over a decade since I last read Blume’s work, her style and personality came rushing back to me from the very first page. This book has true Blume-ness soaked in every sentence!
The story takes place in New Jersey in 1952 as a series of plane crashes overwhelms a small town. It focuses mostly on Miri Ammerman, a 15-year-old girl at the time, but it also weaves together the stories of those around her: her mom Rusty, her grandma Irene, her uncle Henry, her classmates and other members of the small community. It may seem like a lot to keep up with, but Blume’s writing makes each character so distinct that you soon feel as though you are a part of the town yourself and can relate to the experiences of the characters.
Even though the story is set in the 1950s and features some extraordinary events, the human experiences are largely universal. Blume explores her traditional themes of adolescence, friendships, first loves and growing up, all against the backdrop of a catastrophic sequence of events. The rich tapestry that she weaves as she develops each character’s life throughout the book kept me hooked, and her writing was so easy to connect with that I finished this book in less than a week.
If you’re a fan of Blume, this book won’t disappoint. And if you’re in the mood to cap off your summer reading with a good, quick read, then this one should be on your list!
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Stats: 416 pages
Recommended for: Anyone who’s ever had a Judy Blume phase or needs a change of pace from their usual reading list. Blume is fresh, and even though some of the concepts and ideas are universal, she approaches them in new ways that keep you interested.
Up Next: The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman